No com­ment, min­is­ter tells TV pre­sen­ter

The Guardian - - NEWS - Press As­so­ci­a­tion

The min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for a new times ta­bles check for pri­mary school chil­dren re­fused to an­swer a mul­ti­pli­ca­tion sum on TV yes­ter­day.

Nick Gibb was asked by Good Morn­ing Bri­tain pre­sen­ter Jeremy Kyle what the an­swer is to eight times nine.

But the school stan­dards min­is­ter did not an­swer, in­stead telling Kyle and fel­low pre­sen­ter Kate Gar­raway: “I’m not go­ing to get into this. I’ve learnt through bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence never to an­swer these kinds of ques­tions on live tele­vi­sion.”

He added: “I’m very tempted to, but I’m not go­ing to.”

Gar­raway told Gibb he was a “very suc­cess­ful per­son who clearly can add up and do maths”, adding: “Why is it so im­por­tant for an eight-year-old to do it when clearly you feel vul­ner­a­ble about it, and there you are, a gov­ern­ment min­is­ter?”

The min­is­ter re­sponded: “No eightyear-old or nine-year-old will be do­ing it on live tele­vi­sion.”

Gibb was on the pro­gramme to talk about the gov­ern­ment’s new times ta­bles check for eight- and nine-year-olds, which will be tri­alled this spring fol­low­ing a re­view of pri­mary school assess­ment. While sup­port­ers have ar­gued that the check will help to en­sure that all chil­dren know their ta­bles up to 12 off by heart, the move has been con­tro­ver­sial, with op­po­nents rais­ing con­cerns about the ed­u­ca­tional ben­e­fits. The Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Head Teach­ers de­scribed the move as “hugely dis­ap­point­ing”. Nick Brook, the union’s deputy gen­eral sec­re­tary, said the tests “won’t tell teach­ers and par­ents any­thing they don’t al­ready know about their chil­dren”.

It is un­der­stood that around 290 pri­maries in Eng­land, around 7,250 pupils, are ex­pected to take part in the tri­als. The check will be com­pul­sory from 2020.

The test will last a max­i­mum of five min­utes and al­low teach­ers to mon­i­tor a child’s progress, the DfE said.

Gibb has said: “Just as the phon­ics screen­ing check helps chil­dren who are learn­ing to read, the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion ta­bles check will help teach­ers iden­tify those pupils who re­quire ex­tra sup­port. This will en­sure that all pupils leave pri­mary school know­ing their times ta­bles off by heart and able to start sec­ondary school with a se­cure grasp of the fun­da­men­tal math­e­mat­ics they need to ful­fil their po­ten­tial.”

Nick Gibb, the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for the times ta­bles check for chil­dren

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